You didn't note it but Vandy lost the turnover battle 3-0. How many times does that happen. The 1st was your typical "screw Vandy" call that other 13 schools never get against them. The 2nd was on a fake punt and the 3rd almost cost them the game. Good job over coming bad calls and miscues.
Here’s your weekly breakdown of all the SEC action from the previous weekend. We provide one key stat as well our own MrSEC.com takeaway from each contest.
This week’s will be a tad shorter because we’re having to put this one together uber-quick. It’s our salute to the new college football landscape: up-tempo, no-huddle.
LSU 24, Texas A&M 19 in College Station – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 5-0. The difference in the score was five points, but the difference in the game was five turnovers. Five Texas A&M turnovers. And none for LSU. Sure the Tigers held the SEC’s leading rusher — Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel to 27 yards on the ground — but the big stat in this game? Five turnovers to none.
* LSU won without a great showing from its offense and without a perfect showing from its defense (aside form those aforementioned turnovers). But as was the case last week in a win over South Carolina at home, a thinned-out, yet talented LSU roster displayed a whole lot of guts. A&M led LSU 12-0 for much of the first half, but the Tigers didn’t wilt on the road as they did at Florida. A gritty performance by the Tigers.
* Texas A&M belongs. Manziel is the straw that stirs the drink and everyone knows that, but even on a day when he had some struggles — 27 yards rushing, three interceptions — the Aggies went toe-to-toe with a Top 10 LSU team that was supposed to be one of those squads that would squash the A&M upon its entry into the SEC. Didn’t happen. That says a lot about what Kevin Sumlin’s doing in College Station.
Vanderbilt 17, Auburn 13 in Nashville – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 27 for 169. Those were the carries and yards for RB Zac Stacy who became Vandy’s all-time rushing leader in its tight win over the Auburn. He now has 2,670 yards for his career. On Saturday, he was the backbone of an attack that outgained the woeful Tigers 382 to 212 in total offense. The only negative? A fourth-quarter fumble that gave AU the ball at Vandy’s 32 with 2:24 left. But the Commodores’ defense held and Stacy’s great day will be remembered for the many highs rather than the one low.
* QB Jordan Rodgers — benched for Vandy’s game versus Presbyterian — has quietly put together a solid season. No super. Solid. Saturday he was 15-of-25 through the air for 173 yards, no scores and no picks. Ten SEC passers have thrown at least 150 passes on the season. Only three have thrown two or fewer interceptions (MSU QB Tyler Russell has thrown one in 203 attempts, Alabama QB AJ McCarron has thrown none in 154 passes, and Rodgers has two in 159 passes). As long as Vanderbilt can run the football and its defense bows up as it did on Saturday, a game-manager might be all James Franklin needs to get back to a bowl in 2012.
* Auburn is now 1-6 overall and off to its worst start since way back in 1952. Since a 14-0 BCS Championship season in 2010 with Cam Newton at quarterback, the Tigers — despite numerous highly-rated recruiting classes — have gone just 9-11. They’ve dropped seven SEC games in a row dating back 51 weeks to last October 29th.
Florida 44, South Carolina 11 in Gainesville - Video Highlights
Key Stat: 4-0. Hate to go the turnover route again, but how else do you explain what happened in Gainesville on Saturday. Florida gained just 183 yards of total offense yet they scored 44 points without a special teams or defensive score. QB Jeff Driskel completed just 11 passes for 93 yards, but he also accounted for four scores through the air. Four South Carolina turnovers led to short fields for the Gator offense. And the Gator offense took advantage.
* RB Marcus Lattimore has just 16 carries and 48 yards rushing in Carolina’s last two games (both losses). Overall the Cocks’ ground game has ground to a halt: 26 carries for 36 yards against Florida and 25 carries for 34 yards against LSU. USC is not a passing team and that point was proven as Steve Spurrier flip-flopped QB Connor Shaw for QB Dylan Thompson on Saturday only to see the two put up nearly identical poor numbers. But Carolina’s run game should get better with dates against Tennessee, Arkansas and Wofford coming up before Clemson.
* The Gators are now +11 in turnover margin on the year. Against SEC foes, they’re +10. These aren’t the Fun ‘N’ Gun Gators of Spurrier and the 1990s. They’re the power running, solid defense, turn-you-over reptiles of Will Muschamp and Dan Quinn. UF fans are learning that winning can be fun even when you aren’t throwing the ball all over the yard.
Georgia 29, Kentucky 24 in Lexington – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 427 yards. No, that wasn’t Georgia’s rushing total against Kentucky, a team with serious issues defending the run. That was QB Aaron Murray’s yardage total through the air. In an SEC Player of the Week performance, Murray completed 30-of-38 passes for 427 yards and four touchdowns (with zero interceptions). And the Dawgs needed every single on of those TD passes to withstand a surprisingly good performance from Kentucky.
* Georgia’s defense — and we know this is gettin repetitive — just isn’t as good as a whole as its parts would suggest. UGA allowed Kentucky to rush for 206 yards on 43 carries (nearly five yards per clip). Kentucky ranks 13th in the SEC when it comes to running the football.
* “No one can say this team quit,” UK’s Joker Phillips said after the game. Indeed that’s true. The Cats fought and — dare I say it? — clawed with UGA from horn to horn. Kentucky had lost its previous four SEC games to Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Arkansas by an average score of 38-10. And that number might have even been aided by the fact that UK’s 49-7 loss to Arkansas last week was shortened by 20 minutes due to stormy weather. Yet just when it looked like his Wildcats were going to give up on him, Phillips got something out of this team. Does that say more about Kentucky’s players? Phillips? Or Georgia?
Mississippi State 45, MTSU 3 in Starkville – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 35-0. That was the second-half score from Davis-Wade Stadium Saturday night. After sleepwalking through the first half to take a 10-3 lead into the break, State woke up and played like the Top 15 team they are. There was every reason to yawn their way through this one. The Bulldogs won a big game with Tennessee a week earlier and now enter a matchup with fellow unbeaten, Alabama. MTSU was a trap game. For a half, it looked like MSU might fall prey to that trap. But just as a superior team is supposed to do, Dan Mullen’s squad pulled away in the second half.
* RB LaDarius Perkins’ 64-yard touchdown run in the third quarter opened the flood gates on MTSU. On 20 carries, Perkins tallied 125 yards for a 6.3-per-carry average. That performance was good enough to move the Bulldog back past Texas A&M’s Manziel into first place on the SEC rushing chart. Perkins (103.43) and Manziel (100.43) are the only two SEC runners to average 100 yards per game.
Alabama 44, Tennessee 13 in Knoxville – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 326 yards. That’s how many yards Alabama gained (of their 539) against the Volunteers on first down plays. The Crimson Tide — including Tennessee penalties — gained four or more yards on 17 of 30 1st-and-10 plays during the game. By comparison, Tennessee gained 131 first-down yards. When you stay on schedule as Bama did, keeping yourself in short down and distances, it’s becomes hard for the defense to guess what the heck is coming next. The result on Saturday: 306 yards passing for QB AJ McCarron and 233 yards rushing for the team.
* The Crimson Tide is good. Very, very good. But I’m still not sure if they’re as great as last year’s team. The next two weeks will tell us all we need to know. Mississippi State will be a good test for Nick Saban’s team and that will be followed by Bama’s trip to LSU and Death Valley. Alabama has a smart, tough football team. But I won’t say they’re as good or better than last year’s bunch until after November 3rd.
* Tennessee’s defense has been woeful all season, but in SEC contests the Vols’ high-powered passing offense hasn’t delivered as most expected. QB Tyler Bray has dominated UT’s nonconference foes (NC State, Georgia State and Akron) with 72-of-104 (69.2%) for 1,044 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception. Great stuff. But against the Vols’ SEC opponents (Florida, Georgia, MSU and Alabama) he’s completed just 72-of-140 passes (51.4%) for 870 yards with six TDs and eight INTs. That’s just not good enough to make up for a bad defense.